In business, whether online or offline, failure is almost unavoidable. Nobody hits it out of the park on their first try. In my case, I’ve had my share of failures — some complete, and some “soft” shall we say — in my quest to build a full-time income online.
If you would have told me back before all of this started that this is what I would go through over a period of years, I never would have believed you. Since I started online years ago, I’ve gone through a transformation of sorts, where I’ve learned about the realities of making real money online and what it takes to do so. Like everything, it takes an education, work and determination, and even then you’re not guaranteed success.
I want to be transparent with everyone about the more unattractive aspects of my online career. Some of the most successful internet marketers out there might make it look easy, and it may be with their knowledge and experience, but I can assure you that it wasn’t easy in the beginning. It never is. So without further ado, here are many of my failed online ventures of the past:
FAILURE #1: My Golf Affiliate Website
Many years ago I joined a paid community of affiliate marketers under a particular program; I won’t name this program, but what it basically is is a full course that teaches you how to build a niche affiliate website and rank it in Google for organic search traffic. The people behind this course teach you how to build websites around any niche, but in many ways they encourage you to make a website in the make money online niche and funnel traffic to their own product.
I ended up building a golf website (which I also won’t name) that featured golf tips, guides, news discussion and equipment reviews. I poured many hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of hours into creating content for this site for over a year, believing the claims and promises that by the end of the first year I would be getting enough organic traffic and affiliate sales to make a full-time income. I pounded out review after review, article after article, all written by myself, shared them on social media and followed all the strategies I needed to follow to improve my search engine rankings. It was exhausting.
And eventually I was ranking pretty well; in fact, for many of my target keywords I was ranking on the first page of Google, including for buyer keywords. Sadly, the torrent of sales and commissions one might expect never followed. I tried everything I could think of in terms of changing up the format of my posts, moving my links and changing the wording among other things, and the best I could do was bring in about $400-$500 a month. I knew that I had little chance of even getting close to a full-time income with this website, and the tiny glimmer of hope that was there wasn’t worth the effort it took to create content. Suffice it to say, I haven’t created a new post on the site in a long time, and the income it generates has all but died out.
FAILURE #2: Flipping Domains
At one point I had bought a course that taught you how to buy available or expired domains for $5-$10 and sell them to local businesses for 20 times the cost for a tidy profit. These domains would typically have a business niche and city in the name — something like ShoeRepairDallas.com for example — and be appealing to local businesses who want to attract more search engine leads.
I gave it a try, buying a couple of domains, prospecting, contacting local businesses and pitching it to them. To my surprise, I made a sale to a landscaper within the first couple weeks for $300. It got me so excited, and I used that money to buy a bunch more geotargeted domains in the hopes that I could make more sales. Sadly, after countless hours employing the same method — prospecting and pounding out personalized emails — I couldn’t make another sale. I had offers from a few businesses, but all of them backed out for unknown reasons. Despite testing different approaches, I couldn’t make anything happen. I started to realize that the initial $300 sale I made was pretty lucky, and that this method wasn’t worth the time I was spending on it.
FAILURE #3: AliExpress Dropshipping
At one point, another method with potential was brought to my attention. This one involved creating a Shopify store, listing products from AliExpress on it at a significant markup and driving traffic to them using Facebook Ads.
Dropshipping has always been very attractive to me because I don’t have to go out of pocket stocking product, which means there’s very little to no risk involved. Unfortunately, as I came to learn, this business model has its own challenges. In the end, my conversion rates weren’t nearly good enough. I couldn’t figure out how to use Facebook ads properly. I ended up flushing a large amount of money down the drain. I learned a lot in the process, but I didn’t feel like it was the path I should be going down.
Facebook Ads can be very complicated and difficult to master, and I actually wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you have a side income coming in from somewhere else and/or you have at least a couple thousand dollars to invest.
FAILURE #4: Dropshipping on eBay
This is one of my more recent failures. Some time ago, a fellow internet marketer I trust and respect endorsed an e-commerce course that teaches you how to make money flipping physical products and dropshipping on eBay. Unlike a lot of other e-commerce courses, though, this one doesn’t involve AliExpress or retail stores, but rather real suppliers and distributors around the US and in other countries. The idea is to get wholesale pricing from these suppliers for in-demand products, and once you do that, you can supposedly compete with other sellers on eBay and take your share of the e-commerce pie.
I spent months setting everything up, registering my business, building my online store and calling potential suppliers to try and open up wholesale accounts. In the end, I couldn’t make sales because I couldn’t compete with the eBay sellers that buy in bulk and sell at impossibly low prices. The secret sauce to this method was missing from the course, and I wasn’t getting much useful help from the product creators. I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the hassles and immense challenges involved with dropshipping, and so I abandoned this venture.
This doesn’t cover it all. There are more failures to speak of, but the ones I summarized above are perhaps the most notable. Without enduring these hardships, I probably wouldn’t have been able to determine where I should be focusing my energies, and what endeavors I feel are worth my time.
The moral? Just about everyone who is committed to succeeding online experiences these kinds of failures along the way. While my goal is to try to fast-track you as much as possible and minimize your failures on the way to success, chances are you’ll still have a bunch of them. On the surface these failures feel like a massive waste of time and effort, but the reality is that they’re tremendous learning experiences that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
If you have any questions or feedback on this article, feel free to leave a comment below!